Free Online Marketing Tools

There are a lot of marketing tools out there. Free digital marketing tools, paid digital marketing tools, free marketing tools for small business, paid marketing tools for small business, whether you want to call them “tools” or “apps” or “gadgets” or “device-based services”, there are a lot of options out there. While every day a dozen more startups emerge promising to help your business succeed, just as many fade into oblivion.

Is it possible to have all these great tools without paying a cent?

It was a fun challenge to come up with a way to build a $0 marketing stack, to find free alternatives to popular paid tools and services. I’m grateful for all the amazing companies out there that offer such value for so little. Here’s the list I came up with for free alternatives to paid tools. I’d love to know what you think!

1. Reviewing brand mentions and the latest developments in your industry

Google Alerts

Many marketers still swear by Google Alerts for reviewing mentions of their brand, campaign hashtags or competitor names by entering keywords, so it’s still widely used. However, it’s mainly based on the analysis of sites and misses out on social media mentions.


To help here I recommend the free Talkwalker Alerts service from the social listening service Talkwalker. Talkwalker’s Free social search also monitors mentions of your brand, hashtags and competitors on social media.


Although RSS isn’t “in vogue” as it was 5+ years ago, I still find there’s no substitute for using this as a listening post for developments in your industry. I am recommending Feedly because it’s the most popular – so you can see by the ‘voice of the crowd’ which posts are most popular.

Although feed readers aren’t in fashion they are the most efficient way to scan the latest news in different categories. So if you don’t use them try out Feedly – our analytics shows it’s still one of the most common referrers to Smart Insights – do bookmark us!


Zest. is is another download that’s particularly useful for digital marketing, it’s a Google Chrome extension that collects suggested content from users

2. Managing social media updates

Hootsuite and Buffer

I’ve used Hootsuite for posting updates to social networks and reviewing what others are saying for nearly five years now. Hootsuite and Buffer are comfortably the most popular free tools for posting and reviewing social media updates, you probably use them.

But Hootsuite is great as a way of keeping tabs on competitors and influencers too. If you use Twitter lists you can have a stream for each of these which is more practical than following everyone.

  • 3. Finding influencers

There is no single free tool that works well for this. Often using Google or LinkedIn manually are the best way.

A long while ago you could use reputation tools like Klout, Kred or Peerindex, but these have faded. I find that the use of Twitter auto-follow means that this often skews the results.

Influencer tools

LinkedIn sector skills used to be the best source for finding business influencers because of grouping by narrower topics – but LinkedIn killed this – monetization again. LinkedIn advanced search is probably the best replacement.

LinkedIn Skills


Followerwonk is often mentioned as a free service that can be used to find influencers via their Twitter bio, but this limits it as these examples show. Most marketers I know wouldn’t know of the top 3 ‘influencers’ here, instead, they are being rewarded for the use of auto-follow bots.

Right Relevance

For me, Right Relevance is a tool that identifies both publishers and influencers, as this example shows. It is still over-dependent on the text in the bio though, so it’s useful to try different alternatives.

Still, I’m interested to know alternatives readers use here – please share via @SmartInsights.

4. Understanding customer search behaviour

Renamed in 2018, and constantly innovating to be the best custom search tool, Google Search Console, when linked with your Google Analytics give you an invaluable insight into your customers’ behaviour. You can learn how to use these tools to perform a Gap Analysis and what you can do with this information in my tutorial.

Google Trends is also an essential tool for understanding seasonal search behaviour trends in different countries in real-time.

Google trends


Ubersuggest is also useful for summarising the Suggest/Autocomplete behaviour in different countries to check you’re covering the main behaviours. It’s now owned by Neil Patel.


As an alternative, analysis – check out It’s like UberSuggest, but with better formatting – I often use this to show how local consumer behaviour differs, for example, I was giving a training workshop to a Shredders manufacturer – quite a different term en France par example:

KeyWord Tool example

5. Competitor site benchmarking

It used to be that Google AdPlanner was unbeatable for comparing audience size and dimension. That’s been folded into AdWords as the Campaign Planner and now limited to media sites, but still useful for finding size and quality of audience for partner and media sites and don’t forget about the related Google Placement Targeting Tool useful for remarketing and research.

Today, my ‘go to’ tool for benchmarking is Similar Web, a freemium tool launched in 2013 and offering free stats on all sites including referrers.

Similar Web

When it comes to benchmarking, our RACE Framework offers marketers and managers a simple structure to measure and optimize their marketing activities.

If you’re looking for a marketing strategy to reach and acquire more customers, why not book a free consultation to kick off your strategic planning? Identify your problems, and discuss solutions that work for your business.

Find out more about the RACE Framework, and integrated marketing strategy tools covered in this blog. Book in your call to get started today.

 Design: Canva


How we use Canva: The optimized sizes and built-in templates make it fast and easy to create tall pictures for Pinterest, rectangular ones for Twitter, square for Facebook or Instagram, and any size in between. We find Pablo (another free alternative) to be great for Twitter-sized images of 1,024 pixels by 512 pixels, and Canva to work well for all else.

Also free:

3. Real-time Analytics: Google Analytics

Google Analytics real time stats

Google Analytics does pretty much everything in terms of tracking the traffic to your website. It’s a huge, monstrous amount of info, generously given away for free.

How we use Google Analytics: As a social media marketing team, we appreciate the ease with which we can see traffic from the different networks (Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals). We can check the engaged reading time by looking at Time on Page. And for the real-time stats of who’s on our site right now, we can simply click on Real-Time > Overview.

Also free:

  • Go Squared (free for the first 100 visitors and 1,000 data points)
  • MixPanel (free for 25,000 events per month)

4. Website optimization: Hotjar

Hotjar analytics

Let’s say you’re curious how your visitors are using your website—where they click, how far they scroll, etc. Tools like Hotjar can show you exactly what your visitors are doing, via heatmaps, click maps, scroll maps, and visitor recordings. Hotjar also has options to analyze your funnel and to insert messages and surveys to your visitors.

How we use Hotjar: User research can be incredibly powerful stuff. I find great value in seeing how someone interacts with blog posts. How much of the post do they read? Where do they pause? What do they click? Seeing all this information helps me design my posts in a clearer way.

Also free:

 Google My Business

Almost any guide to improving local SEO starts the same way:

Make sure you optimize your Google My Business (GMB) profile.

And that’s because GMB gives you the ability to rank high in Google SERPs without doing any content marketing.

Google also shares some invaluable data about how your customers are finding your business:

Google My Business

(image source)    

Google Keyword Planner

This free tool makes it easy to find the right keywords for your content.

And it’s so simple to use.

Just plug in a few phrases or words related to your topic, focus on your audience and the tool tells you what keywords to consider.

Google Keyword Planner

(image source)

Google Keyword Planner also integrates directly with Google Ads, so you can build campaigns directly from within the tool, too.

Landing Pages: WordPress

WordPress pages

For those who are running their website or blog via WordPress, perhaps the fastest and easiest way to set up a landing page is simply to create a new page. If you blog with WordPress, the blog content you create falls into Posts. The static content for landing pages—“Download our ebook,” “Sign up for our webinar,” etc.—can be made quite easily via Pages.

How to use WordPress: Build a new landing page in WordPress, and use this as the focal point of your social media ad campaign or your social media updates. Certain plugins like WooDojo even let you hide the content in your sidebar for particular pages, which could be a great option for minimizing the look of your page.

Also free:

  • Unbounce free plan (includes Unbounce branding)


Today, to be successful in building a profitable business, you should branch away from the traditional ways of doing business. Digital marketing plays a big role in this regard, as it offers many free online marketing tools to help you succeed online.

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